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Lt. Mark Alphonsus CORBETT

Male 1922 - 1944  (22 years)

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  • Name Mark Alphonsus CORBETT 
    Title Lt. 
    Born 9 Aug 1922  Bienville, Lévis, Québec, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Male 
    Misc Abt 1939 
    • was CO of his cadet corps
    Milit-Beg 12 Sep 1941  Québec, Québec, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location  [1
    • with COTC Laval
    Occupation From 1942 to 1944 
    Infantry Officer 
    Residence 1942  Québec, Québec, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location  [2
    Occupation 10 Jul 1942  Québec, Québec, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location  [1
    enroled in Canadian Army as a gunner in the Royal Canadian ArtilleryAnti-Tank. Pay $1.30 per diem. 
    Occupation 17 Jul 1942  Brockville, Ontario, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location  [1
    began his Officer Training Course 
    Occupation 7 Nov 1942  Brockville, Ontario, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location  [1
    was promoted to Second Lieutenant, pay $4.25 per diem 
    Military Event 11 Dec 1942  Huntingdon, Québec, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location  [1
    • was promoted to Lieutenant Infantry(Rifle). Pay $5 per diem.
    Military Event 10 Jun 1943  [1
    • embarks for the UK
    Military Event 19 Jun 1943  6Ciru, United Kingdom Find all individuals with events at this location  [1
    • disembarked in the UK
    Military Event From 2 Jul 1943 to 2 Aug 1943  5Ciru, United Kingdom Find all individuals with events at this location  [1
    • was attached to 1 Sub Depot
    Military Event From 19 Sep 1943 to 23 Oct 1943  [1
    • was attached to CRU Officers school CRU Crse 12 Serial 5 (Officersrefresher)
    Military Event From 31 Oct 1943 to 6 Nov 1943  [1
    • was attached CRU Crse 10 Serial 26 (Officers wireless) and qualified Q2
    Misc __-08-1944  [3
    • War diary of the Regina Rifles (RG 24-15199) does not show any engagementor mention the circumstances of his death. He joined the 1Bn R.R. on 12Jun 1944 in France. The status sheet shows '(HLI)' next to his name, andothers, in June/July. There is also a mention of the SD&G Highlanders,HLIofC and 10 CBR Bn.
    Military Event 28 Feb 1944  [1
    • was taken on strength with the Stormont, Dundas & Glengarry Highlanders(SD&GH).
    Military Event 9 Jun 1944  France Find all individuals with events at this location 
    • disembarked in France after embarking in UK on 8-Jun-44.
    Military Event 12 Jun 1944  [4
    • was taken on strength by the Regina Rifles Regiment (RRR)
    Milit-End 19 Aug 1944  [1
    • was struck off strength of the Regina Rifles Regiment
    _AMTID 330126059082:1030:114017017 
    _UID 35543228084F467E98657A18C141894F67EE 
    Died 19 Aug 1944  Mandeville-en-Bessin, Calvados, Basse-Normandie, France Find all individuals with events at this location  [1, 5
    Map Reference 269325 Sheet 7F1100, 000 
    • Killed by anti-tank mine.
    Mark Corbett Obit
    Mark Corbett Obit
    Royal Message of condolence
    Royal Message of condolence
    Buried Bef 25 Oct 1946  Bretteville-sur Laize, Calvados, Basse-Normandie, France Find all individuals with events at this location  [1
    Grave 8, row B., plot 20 Bretteville-sur-Laize Canadian Military 
    • Regina Rifles History

      On June 14, German shells, the "moaning minnies," with their highpiercing screech hailed down on the Battalion positions, hitting anammunition dump in the unit's vehicle park. The fire burned throughoutmost of the night. Fortunately, there were no injuries but five vehicleswere destroyed. In the three days between June 12 and 14, the Battalionsustained a further 14 fatalities.

      On June 15, battalion headquarters fortuitously moved to a new position400 yards further west. The headquarters had previously been locatednear the church in Bretteville. Shortly after the headquarters moved,German artillery destroyed the steeple with a direct hit, causing thebell and spire to crash to the ground in rubble. The new battalionheadquarters position was also shelled that night. Because there hadbeen no previous shelling in that particular area there was a strongsuspicion that the Germans might have received information from aninformer in the village. However, nothing could be proven. The shellingcaused two more fatalities for the Battalion.

      To Bray for a Rest

      On June 17,1944, a fighting patrol sent out by C Company was caught inGerman crossfire. The patrol suffered 13 casualties, six of whom werefatal. During that day the Battalion was relieved in the line by theQueen's Own Rifles, and moved back a couple of miles to Bray to rest.The Regina Rifles had been continuously in the line for 11 days. Ontheir first day out of the line, June 18, it began to drizzle andcontinued raining for the first two days of their brief rest. This badweather was to delay the planned build-up of the Allied forces for theirbreak-out into Normandy. The Rifles were to stay at Bray until June 29.During the following few days a course was held at the Battalion sniperschool. Candidates were sent out to the front line for on the jobtraining with live targets! During the rest period, the Battalion wasvisited by General Crerar and Major General Keller who both expressedsatisfaction with the Battalion's actions to that date, and with the waythe men had conducted themselves.

      The Move Inland: Securing the Bridgehead

      On June 19, a furious Channel storm broke up the Mulberry Harbour whichhad been towed over to Omaha Beach in the American assault sector. OnSunday, June 25, Padre Jamieson held church services in the Companyareas and finally, on June 26, the allied break-out in Normandy began.The Battalion was put on one hour's notice to move from noon, but theorder was rescinded and the men stood down at 1945 hours that night. OnJune 29, 1944, the Battalion moved back into the line. They left Brayfor the villages of Rots and La Villeneuve to relieve the 7th RecceRegiment. There the Battalion took up positions astride the Caen-Bayeuxroad to counter the threat from German armour which might come from Caenwhere it had been massing for yet another counter-attack. Dominion Dayfound the Battalion digging in at La Villeneuve where A Company observeda German patrol that withdrew. The next day the Battalion was visited byGenerals Stuart, Keller, and Folkes.

      In the chateau at Rots, Colonel Matheson held an officers' mess dinnerwhile shells from Carpiquet and Abbey of Ardennes bounced off the walls.Utilizing their army rations, the officers dined off fine dinnerwarefrom the Chateau recently abandoned by the owners. Although the food waspoor the wine from the cellars was good. Only half the officers of theBattalion were able to attend; the others had to stay on duty in case ofan attack.

      Carpiquet air field was one of the German strong points supposed to havebeen taken by 9th Brigade on D-Day or the day after. However, it did notfall and remained a serious obstacle to the break-out. On July 4, as aprelude to the attack on Caen, Operation WINDSOR was launched, in whichtroops from 8th Brigade, including the Queens' Own Rifles and the RoyalWinnipeg Rifles detached from 7th Brigade for that operation, stormedCarpiquet and took it. The Reginas provided the fire support. WhenMatheson went forward to get a better view from C Company's position, adud German artillery round caved in his trench but he survived.

      The Abbey of Ardennes
      On the night of July 7, Operation CHARNWOOD, a three division frontalassault on Caen, began with the first time attempt to use heavy bombingas a prelude to an attack by the army. The air attack devastated thecity. The next day, the move towards Caen began. Units of 9th Brigadetook Gruchy, Buron, and Authie. Ardennes Abbey was being used by the12th SS Panzer Regiment as a headquarters and was heavily defended withmortars, machine guns, and 75mm guns. On July 8, the Regina Rifles weretasked to capture it.

      To capture the Abbey, Matheson planned to attack with three companies,B, C, and D, and keep the still under strength A Company in reserve.Before attempting the assault on the Abbey, Gordon Brown and Major Tubbdid a careful reconnaissance. They climbed a church steeple north ofRots where they were able to see the fields stretching out betweenAuthie and the Abbey. They didn't like what they saw. The area was flat,open, and devoid of cover where an attacking force would easily be seen.What is more, the defenders had the advantage of dug in defences andclear fields of fire.

      The North Nova Scotia Regiment had reached Authie at 1600 hours. H hourfor the Reginas' attack was set at 1700 hours. At that time of year, thesun did not set until around 10:30 so the attack would take place indaylight. B Company, under Major Eric Syme, was the first to move to theBattalion start line at Authie. As the Company went forward from theassembly area, two German machine guns opened up on the advancing troopsinflicting heavy casualties. Circumstances were such that B Companyreceived little artillery or armoured support. In spite of theconcentrated machine gun fire, the company struggled through Authie andreached their first objective, some mounds between them and the abbey.They had taken 61 casualties in this short advance.

      C Company moved to its start line at 1725 hours also under heavy fire.However, it pushed on, passing through B Company's position, andstruggled over the open area towards the abbey. They were hit with tankand accurate mortar fire which caused many casualties, including thecompany commander, Major Tubb and all the officers and senior NCOs. Only21 men of the Company remained in action and they were forced towithdraw to B Company's position under fire.

      On the left, with C Company, D Company moved forward from Authie towithin 500 yards of the abbey also under machine gun and rifle fire.Each of the platoons wriggled forward using fire and movement. Sectionsshifted under covering fire of other sections, and the men were forcedto crawl or run in shorts bursts. One of the company's platoons deployedin a left flanking attack while the other two platoons attacked underthe cover of smoke fired from their two inch mortars. The raggedplatoons finally reached their objective, the east side of the abbey, at2230 hours.

      Gordon Brown returned from the abbey and guided A Company forward in thefailing light to help consolidate the position sustaining 15 casualtieson the way. All night long, the men held on behind the wall of theabbey, against a deadly hail of German machine gun fire from as close as200 yards. After a fierce fire fight at first light the abbey wassecured and the Germans driven out. As the German counter fireslackened, the men's spirits were given a further boost by theiruncovering the abbey's wine stock!

      The Battalion suffered 11 officer and 205 other ranks casualties, 36 ofthem fatal, with one missing in action. This had been the worst fightingfor the Battalion since D-Day. The capture of the abbey by the Rifleshelped pierce the ring of defences of Caen. That action, and the successof British forces on the left flank of the Canadians, forced the Germansto withdraw back into Caen itself.

      A short time later the depleted Battalion moved to St. Germain, a suburbon the western outskirts of Caen. Here it was visited by General Crerarand Brigadier Foster. On July 10, after prolonged and heavy fighting,Caen fell to the Allies. On that day the headquarters of 2nd CanadianCorps under Lieutenant General Guy Simonds arrived in France, and thecommand of 3rd Canadian Division passed to 2nd Canadian Corps. TheBattalion was then moved to another section of Caen to become thebrigade reserve battalion.

      During its brief stay in Caen, the Battalion mounted the 1st CeremonialGuard. One hundred men, under Captain J. Treleaven, were issued newbattledress, belts, and anklets, and were taken by vehicle to the centreof Caen where they mounted guard at La Place St. Martin. There they wereinspected by the Corps Commander, Lieutenant General Simonds, and theCanadian Red Ensign was unfurled for the first time in France. On July13, the command of the guard was passed to Captain Hector Jones. Atmidnight on July 13, the Battalion moved to the Stormont, Dundas, andGlengarry Highlanders. The relief was completed by 0230 hours underheavy German mortar and artillery fire from positions across the OrneRiver. On July 14, the Battalion scout officer. Lieutenant Bergeron,took his men forward to complete a reconnaissance in the German heldterritory. At 2330 hours Bergeron's patrol moved across the EpronBridge, a partially destroyed railway bridge, leading to the city ofVaucelles. The bridge crossed the Orne about 1,000 yards to the leftfront of the Battalion's position. The Germans had not withdrawn fromVaucelles, and were still manning the trenches which constituted thecity's defence. While the patrol was out on its reconnaissance, A and DCompanies were withdrawn to the town of Epron for a rest. Bergeron andhis patrol returned without incident. On July 16, the remainder of theBattalion was also withdrawn to Epron, being relieved by the 7th RecceRegiment. While they were in Epron the Battalion began preparations forits assault across the Orne.

      First Across The Orne
      On July 18, orders arrived. Operation GOODWOOD, the British armouredbreakout offensive across the River Orne southeast of Caen, was to belaunched. Operation ATLANTIC, the Canadian part of GOODWOOD, also began.The 3rd Canadian Division was given the task of crossing the Orne Riverand capturing Vaucelles. As part of the operation, the Reginas were toget across the river and link up with units of the 9th Brigade on theirleft. Civilians together with members of the French Interior Force (FFI)were to act as guides to the Battalion. Guides were attached to each ofthe companies and given battle dress and regimental flashes.

      In preparation for the assault, 1,000 Lancaster and Halifax bombers weresent over to attack the factory areas at Colombelles and Vaucelles. Tobeef up the weight of fire, an intense artillery bombardment was added.The Regina Rifles were put on one hour notice to move to theirconcentration area at 0800 hours.

      Shortly after this initial phase of the attack, Lieutenant Bergeronagain led a patrol across the Orne, this time in daylight, to determineif, as a result of the heavy pounding the Germans had withdrawn. Thepatrol scurried across the Orne over two wrecked bridges under intenseGerman fire which killed one man. Machine gun fire raked the bridge,pinning down the patrol's communications group, who had set up their 46Set on the Caen side of the river.

      Meanwhile the Battalion began moving to its forming up positions at St.Julien with A and D Companies moving out to their start line at 1500hours. Their passage was obstructed by heaps of rubble caused by theprevious intense bombing and shelling. With C and B Companies following,the lead companies began to cross the Orne on a two company front at twoseparate points.

      On the other side of the river, the isolated patrol was in desperateneed of reinforcements but none were available. Accordingly Bergerondecided to construct a passageway over a gap in the bridge, where thecentre had collapsed but he came under increasing small arms andautomatic fire from German positions and had to go to ground.

      The carrier platoon and the battalion mortars now moved into position onthe north bank of the Orne to give covering fire for the crossing. By1700 hours, German fire had been neutralized and by 1715 hours thehazardous crossing began. A and B Companies and the Carrier platoon gotacross the river and began to clear out snipers on the other side. DCompany, on the left hand crossing, was delayed by accurate Germanmortar and machine gun fire which damaged the company's assault boats.They finally managed their crossing by bridge, followed shortly by CCompany.

      By 2100 hours, all the companies of the Battalion had struggled acrossand were in position on their final objectives. The Battalion suffered18 casualties, including three fatalities in this hard foughtengagement, but as a result could proudly claim the distinction of beingthe first Canadian infantry to cross the Orne.

      On July 19, the companies tightened up their defensive positions inVaucelles, and completed their mopping up operations. To that date theyhad taken 60 to 70 prisoners and more kept trickling in. Also on thatday the remainder of 7th Brigade crossed the Orne, and a patrol from theBattalion was sent to the area that the Royal Winnipeg Rifles were tooccupy. The patrol bagged seven more prisoners of war, two motor cycles,two bottles of cognac, and were treated to excellent meals. Here,unfortunately, the Battalion suffered two more fatalities. On July 20and 21, while the rest of the British and Allied forces were crossingthe Orne on their way to Falaise, the Battalion remained at Vaucellesfor a brief breathing spell. At this time things were not going well forGermany. A sign of how bad things were occurred on July 20 when seniorGerman army officers unsuccessfully attempted to assassinate Hitler.

      On July 22, while still at Vaucelles, the Battalion was treated to amobile bath parade with the accompanying exchange of socks, shirts, andunderwear. Both the Roman Catholic and Protestant chaplains conductedchurch services. That night, at 1730 hours, a nasty surprise in the formof a "buzz bomb" landed in Caen, and a marked increase in German airattacks occurred from which the Battalion suffered a number ofcasualties.

      The Breakout
      On July 23,1944, the 1st Canadian Army headquarters under LieutenantGeneral H.D.G. Crerar became operational in France. Plans for thebreakout of the Allied armies from the Normandy beachhead were now beingput into operation. The America forces began their offensive, OperationCOBRA, under General Omar N. Bradley on July 25. At the same time theCanadian army launched Operation SPRING, the first stage of the drive toFalaise. On July 25, the Battalion moved to an assembly area along arailway embankment prior to the attack on La Hague. Before the attackcould be launched the troops had to wait for the North Nova ScotiaHighlanders to take Tilly-la-Campagne. Although the railway embankmentoffered some protection, the Battalion suffered many casualties from theconstant German artillery, and from bombing and strafing missions fromthe Luftwaffe. The North Nova Scotia Highlanders punched into Tilly, butwere pushed back and forced to withdraw through the Battalion lines. TheGermans then began concentrating tanks from Fontenay-le-Marmion andmoving them to La Hague. Because of this build up of armour theBattalion's attack on La Hague was called off. During the waiting periodin this area, the Battalion suffered three more fatalities.

      Given the change in plans, the Battalion was tasked to hold its presentposition and to prepare for an attack on Tilly in three or four daystime. The Battalion was to keep up the pressure on the German forces andprevent them from withdrawing so they could be used against British andAmerican forces to the west. During these days, Allied armoured advanceswere being made in other areas along the front. Consequently, theBattalion was forced to hang onto the positions at the embankment forseveral more days.

      At midnight, on July 30, and throughout the early hours of the nextmorning, while German aircraft dropped flares to illuminate the area fortheir artillery, the Battalion pulled back through Vaucelles, over theOrne to Caen. They eventually reached the Orchards of Colomby where theywere given a rest period.

      Since June 6, the Battalion had been continuously in action over aperiod of 55 days. From D-Day it had suffered a total of 678 casualties,including 185 killed and eight missing in action. The Battalionsustained an additional fatality during its withdrawal to Colomby.

      Since D-Day the Battalion doctors had done a remarkable job under themost difficult conditions. Battalion medical officers who were generalpractitioners often had to become surgeons because it was not possibleto wait until ambulances took the wounded to field hospitals. CaptainW.S. Huckvale, who landed with Battalion Headquarters on D-Day, treatedhundreds of Canadian and German soldiers as well as French civilians. InJuly 1944 he suffered a severe head wound and was evacuated to Canada.Doctor Huckvale was awarded the Military Cross. He was succeeded byDoctor Harry Dickson. As well, the medical staff and stretcher-bearersunder Sergeant Alf Allen performed valiantly under trying conditions.Allen was also a member of the Battalion band.

      While the Battalion was regrouping, the men from the unit who had beenslightly wounded in previous engagements now returned as reinforcements.While at Colomby the Battalion played sports, went to the movies,splashed in the mobile baths, and lazed on the beaches. There wereexcursions back to the scene of the D-Day assault and visits to thegraves of friends who had fallen there. While the Battalion was at restin Colomby, the troops were treated to the Canadian Army Show staged bythe Legion Auxiliary War Services in the "Windmill Theatre," a cavern inthe quarries of Fontaine-Henry that could seat over a thousand people.The Battalion was also visited by Lieutenant General Simonds and MajorGeneral Keller, and by the war correspondents, J.A.M. Cook, who coveredthe Regina Rifles for the Leader Post, and Gregory Clark. It was herethat the officers of the Battalion true to their old tradition heldtheir first formal mess dinner of the war on the Continent.
    Person ID I788  Work in progress june2018
    Last Modified 11 Sep 2010 

    Father Ernest Alphonsus CORBETT,   b. 15 Nov 1884, Havre Boucher, Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 8 Jul 1957, Sainte-Foy, Québec, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 72 years) 
    Mother Mary Elizabeth MACDONALD,   b. 14 Jun 1884, West Merigomish, Pictou County, Nova Scotia, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 16 Dec 1937, Québec, Québec, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 53 years) 
    Married 8 Nov 1910  Thunder Bay District, Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Family ID F7  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart